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Scientists unravel the science behind jets of plasma occurring

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 10, Mar 2022
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Scientists have unravelled the science behind the jets of plasma – the fourth state of matter consisting of electrically charged particles that occur just about everywhere in the sun’s chromosphere, which is the atmospheric layer just above the Sun’s visible surface.

What are the jets of plasma?

The jets, or spicules, appear as thin grass-like plasma structures that constantly shoot up from the surface and are then brought down by gravity.

  • The amount of energy and momentum that these spicules can carry is of fundamental interest in solar and plasma astrophysics.

How they are formed? What are the recent findings?

Astronomers at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics conducted an experiment to understand the science behind this.

  • They found that the physics underlying paint jets when excited on a speaker is analogous to the solar plasma jets.
  • When a liquid is placed above a speaker and the music is turned on, the free surface of the liquid becomes unstable beyond a particular frequency and starts vibrating.

The researchers realized that the physics underlying these paint jets must be analogous to the solar plasma jets.

The scientists elaborated that the plasma right below the visible solar surface (photosphere) is perpetually in a state of convection, much like boiling water in a vessel heated at the bottom.

  • This is ultimately powered by the nuclear energy released in the hot-dense core. The convection serves almost periodic but there are strong kicks to the plasma in the solar chromosphere.
  • The chromosphere is 500 times lighter than the plasma in the photosphere. Therefore, these strong kicks from the bottom shoot the chromospheric plasma outward at ultrasonic speeds in the form of thin columns or spicules.